Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 18, 2014

Price proves her decision was right to give up her basketball season

by Keith Peters

When Menlo School senior Maddy Price crossed the finish line following the 400 meters at the annual Arcadia Invitational last weekend, her decision to give up something she loved to do was justified.

Instead of playing basketball in the winter for a fourth straight season, Price trained for the spring track and field campaign and competed indoors.

"That definitely set me up to run fast this season," she said. "I'd never done that before. I saw that the best (track and field) athletes trained all year. I miss basketball a lot, but that was a good decision."

Price finished second in the 400 at Arcadia, but her time of 53.43 was an eye-opener. It was a personal best. It broke her own Menlo school record. It made her No. 2 in the nation this season. And, it moved her to No. 2 all-time in Central Coast Section history.

Price was second to freshman Kaelin Roberts of Long Beach Poly. She overtook Price on the final homestretch to win in in a U.S.-leading 53.37. The previous national leader was 53.49 indoors by Olivia Baker of Columbia High in Maplewood, N.J.

"I kind of had mixed emotions when I crossed the finish line and saw my time," Price said. "Obviously, I was disappointed I got second. But, the goal was to run under 54 (seconds) and getting it by a lot, so that made me really happy."

Menlo coach Jorge Chen echoed those sentiments.

"Maddy's race was phenomenal and that was evident by her big PR (1.26 secs) at this level," said Chen. "That really shows that she still has more boom in her! We can't be disappointed at a second-place finish like this since Maddy's time would've easily won this event last year and I mean easily. I give props to Roberts and her coaches as she came out of nowhere on this field and the race itself."

Price surpassed Christina Hardeman of Wilcox (53.72 in 2002) on the all-time CCS list and now trails only Leslie Maxie of Mills, who ran 52.83 in 1984. Maxie competed at the 1984 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Los Angeles in the 400 hurdles, just missing the USA team.

"This race was good for Maddy not only time-wise but also it'll keep her hungry for State," said Chen. "After the race I asked Maddy her thoughts and she told me that she didn't hear anyone coming up on her at all on the 300-meter mark since, unfortunately, she was in Lane 8 and two lanes inside of her were empty."

"I had no idea where anyone was," said Price, who went out quickly and forced the pace of the race. "It was good for me to have a race like that. I knew I had to get out."

The time and effort in the 400 was clear justification for Price that giving up basketball was the right thing to do, even though the Knights wound up winning a second straight CCS Division IV title.

"Obviously, I missed being a part of the team and playing the sport," she said. "There were games where I would watch and have a hard time not being able to be out there with them. But, at the end of the day, I felt like I made a decision that I am happy with, even if it was a struggle to come to terms with the fact that I couldn't just suit up and jump out on the court.

"I think it's hard for anyone to watch a team they aren't a part of anymore, regardless of whether they win CCS or lose every game."

While she couldn't play, Price nonetheless supported her former teammates.

"I was so happy for them, that they surpassed everyone's expectations for this season and came together as a team, to come out on top for a second time," Price said.

That sacrifice, however, has been well worth it.

"I think not playing basketball has definitely helped me," said Price.

Added Chen: "This time was a result of her hard work during the offseason and competing indoors."

In addition to the 400, Price also took second in the Invitational 200 in 24.52, just shy of her PR of 24.47, which she ran this season indoors. Kaysha Love, a sophomore from Herriman, Utah, won the race in 24.11.

Price is the defending CCS champ in both the 400 and 200, but is also experimenting with the 300 hurdles this season and set a school record of 44.93 in her first attempt. She might be running that event at Friday's CCS Top 8 meet at San Jose City College, site of this season's CCS Championships, as well. That meet previously has been held at Gilroy High and qualified athletes to the CIF State Meet, where Price finished sixth in the 400 last season.

"Maddy will continue to surprise people as she's really focused, determined, and confident to return to the State finals and, this time, it'll be a brand new ball game," said Chen.

Price hopes to be down in the 52s by the end of the season, whether it's at the State Meet or the Canadian Junior Nationals (July 4-6), a qualifying meet for the IAAF World Junior Championships on July 22-27 in Eugene, Ore.

"It's been a real good season thus far," Price said. "Arcadia was just fantastic."

Elsewhere at Arcadia, Gunn sophomore Gillian Meeks was sixth in the seeded heat of the girls' 3,200 with a personal best of 10:47.45. That ranks her No. 4 in school history and puts her ahead of where current school record-holder Sarah Robinson was her sophomore year.

In the boys' invitational triple jump, Menlo's Paul Touma was seventh coming out of the preliminary finals with a mark of 44-11 3/4.

Despite all the talent on hand at Arcadia, the Gunn girls held on to their outdoor national lead in the distance medley relay as no team came close to the Titans' 11:56.68 clocked at the Stanford Invitational.

In SCVAL De Anza Division action Wednesday, the Gunn girls remained undefeated (4-0) and moved closer to claiming the regularion dual-meet title following an 89-38 victory over host Los Altos. The Gunn boys fell to 2-2 after a 68-54 loss to the Eagles.

Gunn senior Sarah Robinson cruised to victory in the 1,600 meters (5:17.72) and Meeks took the 800 with a personal record of 2:17.69, as both ran only one individual event as a tuneup for the CCS Top 8 meet.

Sophomore Robin Peter was a double-winner for Gunn as she took the 100 hurdles (15.93) and open 100 (13.08). Senior Adriana Noronha also won twice, winning the shot put (a PR of 38-11, No. 3 in CCS)) and discus (116-7) and senior Stephanie Do swept the long jump (15-7) and triple jump (32-8 1/4).

Gunn senior Sean Lydster ran only his third 300 intermediate hurdle race ever and finished second in 40.81, which ranks him sixth in CCS. He trailed only Kelly McConnell of Los Altos, who ran 40.02 for the No. 2 CCS time.

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